The below blog entry was submitted by a SC hunter who wanted to share his story and lesson learned and who has also asked to remain anonymous:
Everyone learns the tremendous difference between right and wrong at a very young age. Some of us choose to do the right thing and, often times, some of us choose to do the wrong thing. The sum of the consequences of our choices is what comes to define us as individuals. Doing the right thing is not always the easiest path to take, but it is definitely the most fulfilling. The following is a true story about what recently happened to me and how I chose the hard path to do the right thing.
About two weeks ago, I was in a deer stand hoping for a buck to walk out. A few does and a fawn or two had come out, but no bucks. About an hour before dark, what I thought was another fawn walked into the shooting lane. I brought the rifle up to look at it through the scope and it was a huge bobcat. He wasn’t hanging around long, so I shot him just as his front foot hit the edge of the lane. I actually considered mounting the cat because of his size. The next day I posted pictures of the cat here to the site. I was proud of it! Not once did I give a single thought about any regulations involved with shooting bobcats whatsoever. The next day a buddy of mine at work asked me if we were supposed to shoot bobcats during this time of year. I replied to my friend “Why not?” I thought that bobcats were regulated like coyotes, which is a year round open season. After a little bit of research I realized that I was wrong. Bobcat season opens November 25th in my game zone. I had broken the law.
I had made a mistake and even posted it for everyone to see! I had to swallow a little pride and do what was right and bite the bullet. I called the Department of Natural Resources to find out what I needed to do. A few hours later I ended up meeting a DNR officer who subsequently wrote me a ticket for $140 and 10 points off of my hunting license. I did not enjoy paying the fine, but if I wouldn’t have reported myself and had gotten caught later, I could have served jail time and paid 10 times more than $140. I have no doubt that I made the right decision about turning myself in to DNR. Since then, a few of my friends have called me an idiot and a few have said I did the right thing. I don’t mind the name calling considering I still have a clean criminal record after the fact.
The point of me telling this story is to show that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to breaking laws. My ignorance to the hunting laws in my area could have caused me major trouble, but I chose to do the difficult, but right thing. Now I am in a little trouble and am missing some points on my hunting license, but more importantly, I still have my integrity and peace of mind about my actions.
I encourage everyone to read the rules and regulations book before you go out in the woods so that you won’t find yourself in a predicament similar to mine. It is also a good idea to fold the book up and stick it in your pack or pocket or wherever it can fit in case you need it while you’re out.
In our high school weight room we had a sign that said "Character is who you are when no one is watching" and I think that statement holds a lot of water. I applaud the hunter for demonstrating good character in this situation even when he knew there would be a penalty. I also applaud the hunter for submitting the entry and turning the situation into a positive one for everyone. We all have to play by the rules, so if you don't know them then just travel over to SCDNR for more information. If we all respect the game, the environment, and the rules, then we're only helping ourselves to be safer and helping to ensure fun in the outdoors for future generations.